(CBS SF) — Maybe it’s all about who is the current commander-in-chief. Maybe it resonates more because of Caitlyn Jenner’s announcement this week. Maybe it’s just the new “normal” for the Department of Defense, but this month the DoD is making it very clear to the American public that the military supports Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.
“We celebrate the proud legacy LGBT individuals have woven into the fabric of our Nation, we honor those who have fought to perfect our Union, and we continue our work to build a society where every child grows up knowing that their country supports them, is proud of them, and has a place for them exactly as they are,” said President Barack Obama announcing the celebration on the DoD website.
The previous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy ended on September 20th, 2011. Just three years ago during Pride Month, the DoD quoted an anonymous servicemember about the repeal of that policy who said, “There was this feeling of relief [among gay troops] that not only do I now finally feel like a full-fledged citizen of this country – the country that I put my life on the line to defend more than once – but now I can do my job more efficiently.”
This year, the Defense Department sent out a news release to highlight their efforts as well, stating, “During this time, the department recognizes lesbian, gay and bisexual service members and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civilians for their dedicated service to both the DoD mission and to our nation.”
Some LGBT advocates find the sentiment sincere but feel more work needs to be done. SPARTA President Sue Fulton expressed gratitude mixed with concern.
“We believe that our military leaders recognize talent and ability in all service members, gay, straight, or trans,” she said.
Fulton graduated from West Point and was even married at the West Point chapel, marking the first ever same-sex marriage at the facility.
“Our policies need to catch up, particularly in regard to the thousands of transgender service members, who deserve to have their personal integrity while they continue to serve with honor,” she added.
Still, Fulton was pleased, saying, “But the respect expressed for gay, lesbian, and bi service members during Pride month is real. And earned.”